As part of our startup program, we have partnered with a number of accelerators, incubators, VCs and startups enabling organizations to support and educate their startup communities about how to take advantage of Communications APIs best. In our Startup Community Partner series, we will be discussing with these partners and exploring what makes their programs unique.
For the first post, we chatted with Dennis Birkhölzer, the digital coordinator of SpinLab – The HHL Accelerator and one of the European Commission-funded DMS Accelerator mentors. Dennis breaks down his passion for working with the startup community and gives us an inside look into the DMS Accelerator program. Enjoy!
Our startup community partner at a glance
- Name of Accelerator: DMS Accelerator
- Location: Europe (online accelerator program)
- Industries: Data-Driven Startups and SMEs
- Typical Startup Profile: Europea-based, data-driven business model, mainly pre-seed
The 6-month accelerator, now in its third year, helps 50 early-stage data-centric startups from across Europe with:
- 💼. Entrepreneurial practices
- 💸 Sales & Marketing
- 🤝 1-1 Investor Connections
- 👥 Mentorship
- 🎪 Events & Promotion
Want to find out more 👉 Link: bit.ly/opencall21 Application closes on April 30th!
1. In three sentences or less, tell us about your accelerator program, its focus, benefits and goals.
DMS Accelerator focuses on supporting European data-driven startups and small-medium sized businesses to accelerate their business in terms of sales, marketing, financing and standardization. We do this with excellent coaching and training by a network of experts from all over Europe, to help the participants to gain traction in terms of financing, revenue generation, customers and market visibility. The main goal is to support the competitiveness of the European data market.
2. What does being part of your program mean for founders? What can they expect?
Founders participating in the program can expect tailor-made coaching and mentoring addressing their current challenges and needs. As we are not bound to regional boundaries, we select mentors and coaching from all over Europe to help the startups. We help you attract customers through sales training and marketing. In addition, we connect you with relevant investors.
3. What is the most challenging part of working with startups?
Startups need to operate on a much smaller timescale and runway than big corporations, as they have fewer money reserves. Every decision made, therefore, has a much bigger impact. The challenging part now is to focus on things that might work or do have a faster answer on options that might work. Startups have to find the balance between clever decision making and trial and error. That is the challenging part to help them work on this and advise them in a way that fits their unique needs.
4. What do you find most satisfying about working with startups?
The most satisfying part about working with startups is that you see progress way faster than working with big organizations. Changes can also be implemented way faster than in established and big companies. Seeing a plan working out is satisfying.
5. What are some things that you repeatedly see early-stage companies and founders struggle with?
Traction is crucial for startups. Startups need money to extend their runway. They can get it either by revenue or external funding. To get either of them, they need to sell their product or at least their vision to the respective stakeholders – customers or investors. Some startups think, if they have got an awesome product, those stakeholders will approach them automatically. The question is, how should they know about their offering if they don’t do sales or marketing. This is where founders struggle the most.
6. What’s the biggest trend that gets your team excited in the tech market today?
At the moment, there are various trends in various industries. Artificial intelligence and the usage of big data is creating more and more use cases leading to more traction in this field. Also, blockchain with new technologies making the use of it more energy efficient is also beneficial. We see a growing number of use cases in many technologies so we don’t focus on one technology but rather look at the global development of data-driven business models.
7. Time for some success stories! Which are the 3 (or more) most interesting companies to have joined your program?
Yosh.ai does conversational commerce, guiding customers fluently through online shops. Memoresa is a platform to store all your valuable digital information to be easily accessible even after a person passes away. It is more than a platform to manage digital heritage but also additional and important documents as long as a person lives. Mediscen develops a non-invasive smart patch which helps patients with chronic diseases to manage drug delivery without the use of needles. Their value and benefits are obvious.
8. What are the most important factors startup founders should consider when considering an accelerator?
When selecting an accelerator, the startup founders should consider the time they need to invest in such a program. So before joining a program, they need to check if there is a fit between the program’s services and their current challenges. Also, they need to check if there are costs associated with the accelerator, in terms of a fee or equity the accelerator takes from the startup. If everything is right and as needed, they should apply for the accelerator.
Let's work together - Vonage for Startups
At Vonage for Startups, we help early-stage startups better understand Communications APIs' power and enable them to utilise these tools better. We provide the necessary educational resources and a supportive environment for the startup community to benefit from Communications APIs, whatever their individual needs are.
Partner with us here.